Effect of thermal conditions on the acceptability of respiratory protective devices on humans at rest

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1989 Apr;50(4):188-95. doi: 10.1080/15298668991374499.


The physiological and subjective responses of six sedentary subjects wearing half-facepiece respirators were observed over a wide range of room and respirator air conditions. Room air and dew-point (Ta:Tdp) temperatures were 25:11 degrees, 30:13 degrees, and 35:16 degrees C in still air. Respirator air temperatures were maintained independently of room conditions at 27 degrees, 30 degrees, 33 degrees, and 36 degrees C with relative humidity levels of 47% and 73%. Physiological measurements included local skin and dew-point temperatures. Subjective judgments of acceptability, thermal sensation, degree of discomfort, sense of skin moisture, and difficulty of breathing were recorded separately for the thermal environment in the room and inside the respirator. Respirator temperatures cooler than 33 degrees C were always comfortable and 100% acceptable; respirator air temperatures above 33 degrees C or higher humidity levels decreased respirator acceptability. Acceptability of the respirator environment decreased as lip temperature increased above 34.5 degrees C or when respirator dew-point temperature increased above 20 degrees C. Increased respirator air temperature and humidity often made breathing seem "slightly hard." The respirator conditions influenced the subjects' judgment of the acceptability of the surrounding thermal environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Lip / physiology
  • Protective Devices*
  • Respiratory Protective Devices*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Sweating
  • Temperature*